Research is needed in order to limit transport infrastructure vulnerability to climate change and other natural or human caused disruptions. Making infrastructures more resilient to climate change should focus on improving the ability of the transport infrastructure network to withstand disruption, adapt to changing conditions under extreme circumstances while maintaining its performance. The goal is to strengthen infrastructure reliability, improve its performance under extreme circumstances thus increasing the resilience of the whole transport system.
Sea ports and waterways around the world are experiencing air and water temperature increases, rising sea levels, changes in seasonal precipitation and wind and wave conditions. Many are also seeing more frequent and severe extreme events such as storms, flash floods, prolonged heatwaves and droughts. Climate change represents a significant risk to business, operations, safety and infrastructure – and hence to local, national and European economies.
Extreme weather events affect transport infrastructures and their management. Even if infrastructures are designed to cope with various stresses along their life, the increase of frequency and severity of extreme weather events will, increase their deterioration pace and increase possibility of accidents that may become more frequent due to adverse weather conditions. Sea ports and connected inland waterways are particularly exposed to extreme weather events and are very important for the local and global economy, since nearly 80% of world freight is transported by ship. Seaports of Europe are gateways to other continents. 74% of extra-EU goods are shipped through ports. They are also important for intra-Europeantrade: 37% of the intra-EU freight traffic and 385 million passengers pass by ports every year. A 50% growth of cargo handled in EU ports is predicted by 2030.
Port and waterway operators need to take urgent action to strengthen resilience and adapt. As costal structures, seaports and connected inland waterways are exposed to storm surges and sea level rise and are vulnerable to flooding. Climate change is expected to have more severe impacts in northern Europe, where Europe’s top 20 cargo seaports are located. In total, 852 ports face the risk of inundation in 2080 and the number of seaports to be exposed to inundation levels higher than 1m is projected to increase by 80% from 2030 to 2080. The number of ports that face the risk of inundation is expected to increase by more than 50% from 2030 to 2080. This trend is even stronger on the North Sea coast, where according to the GISCO database over 500 ports are located with traffic accounting for up to 15% of the world’s cargo transport (EUCC-D, 2013). In total, 852 important ports face the risk of inundation by the end of the century is 852.
At the same time when focusing at a resilient and performing transport infrastructure, its environmental footprint, resource and material consumption and habitat fragmentation and biodiversity degradation should be reduced to a minimum. The goal is smart, green, sustainable, climate-resilient and biodiversity friendly infrastructure.
Proposals will develop and validate new solutions to increase resilience, efficiency, inter-modality and safety of the transport system, for passengers and freight.